The day of the dead, or Día de los Muertos, is a Mexican tradition honoring loved ones who have passed. Traditionally, locals fill graveyards with candles and flowers for the event. Carbondale Arts is hosting its own Día de los Muertos event virtually as part of its monthly First Friday celebration on Nov. 6 from 6 to 7 p.m.
The art organization built its own altar filled with traditional art and ornate, orange paper flowers at The Launchpad, where people have been dropping off momentos of deceased family members throughout the week. Día de los Muertos isn’t celebrated everywhere in Mexico, but it’s an important day of remembrance in many towns and villages across the country.
“In every house where someone died, they have these big altars,” said Iliana Rentería. “You can buy candles that the villagers have made, and you go inside the house to honor the deceased and they offer you food.”
Rentería will co-hosting Friday’s event along with her husband, Radio La Tricolor’s Samuel Bernal. Carbondale Arts’s executive director Amy Kimberly and Thunder River Theatre Company’s executive artistic director Corey Simpson will also host the virtual festivities. The event will feature a face painting tutorial and traditional storytelling—an official from Denver’s Mexican consulate will even be jumping on the call to talk about the holiday’s significance in Mexican culture.
“It was so important to find a way to make this happen,” said Kimberly, noting that honoring loved ones who have passed is especially meaningful during the pandemic.
She points out that while the virtual festivities on Friday evening will be more geared toward celebration, anyone can still find a moment to reflect in-person at The Launchpad’s altar.
Radio La Tricolor’s Bernal agrees that keeping the event alive, even if it’s virtual, is an important part of building community.
“I think culture is a mixture of a lot of history and a lot of different communities to create something,” he said. “When you see these Latin traditions being here and mixing with local traditions I think that’s beautiful because that’s how culture is created.”
The event can be streamed on Thunder River Theatre Company’s ThunderStream from 6 to 7 p.m.